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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

AGSI defends members over Shatter walk-out amid disciplinary action

The body representing Garda sergeants says members who walked out of Alan Shatter’s address had a right to protest.

Four AGSI members walked out of Alan Shatter's speech to their national conference, and absented themselves for Martin Callinan's speech.
Four AGSI members walked out of Alan Shatter's speech to their national conference, and absented themselves for Martin Callinan's speech.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE ASSOCIATION representing the country’s Garda sergeants has defended the actions of four of its members who are to face disciplinary action after walking out of their annual conference during a speech by the Minister for Justice.

At the final day of its conference in Sligo, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said the four members from its Carlow-Kilkenny branch had exercised their right to protest when they walked out of the event during Shatter’s speech.

“The Carlow-Kilkenny branch were mandated by their members and executed their right to protest by withdrawing from conference,” the association’s general secretary John Redmond said.

“We do understand their protest against Minister Shatter, who has treated our members with great disdain and disrespect,” he added.

The comments came after the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, told reporters that the walk-out “shouldn’t have happened”.

“Not for a moment do I condone that, nor do I inspect it from a member of sergeant rank or inspector rank in An Garda Síochana,” Callinan said, in remarks posted online by RTÉ.

He added:

Showing disrespect to the minister of the day, or the Commissioner of the day, is not on, as far as I am concerned.

The four delegates from Carlow-Kilkenny had also walked out before Callinan’s address, saying they had no confidence in him. Redmond said their actions were not in line with AGSI policy, but that he nonetheless respected the members’ right to protest.

Shatter’s arrival was met with silence from the members, who opted against applauding him. Callinan was given a warmer welcome.

Four members to face disciplinary action

RTÉ reports that Shatter has approved disciplinary action against the four members for walking out during his speech, and that the four will appear before an assistant commissioner later this week.

“I am disappointed that Minister Shatter continues to rebuke and criticise his members who are down-trodden by a Minister who continues to disregard the concerns of their force,” Redmond said.

Callinan had also taken issue with comments made by members who said Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe may not have been killed if the Uzi submachine guns assigned for some members had not been replaced.

“I think anyone that is equipped with the salient facts in relation to the brutal murder of Adrian Donohoe will quickly realise that an Uzi submachine gun, in those circumstances, would not have made the slightest bit of difference,” he said.

Separately, the president of the Garda Representative Association, PJ Stone, has said the association may invite neither Shatter nor Callinan to attend and address its own conference in the coming weeks.

While the body of rank-and-file Gardaí have previously decided not to invite various justice ministers to address them, a decision not to invite the Garda Commissioner to address members would be unprecedented.

Read: Gardaí feel like ‘sitting ducks’ after decision to withdraw Uzi submachine guns

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